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Episode 66 - 24 Mar 2020

Responding to COVID-19

Wondering how to best lead the church amid COVID-19? Adam and John sit down to discuss! This episode was recorded LIVE on the new Church Leadership Podcast Liveshow, a part of Watermark TV. To watch live, submit a question, see the show notes, and be a part of the conversation, go to

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Episode Summary


This episode was recorded LIVE on the new Church Leadership Podcast Liveshow, a part of Watermark TV. To watch live, submit a question, see the show notes, and be a part of the conversation, go to

Show Notes

Circumstances like today are not new for the church. It can be helpful to take look to church history and remind ourselves that the church has always persevered through pandemic and crisis. Keep in mind Martin Luther's simple framework:
1. God is in control
2. You have a responsibility
3. Be wise

Know that there will be a next time. COVID-19 will not be the last crisis we face and will not be the last opportunity for the church to rise up in support. You will be more ready for that day because of this moment. We need to take this moment in time very seriously.

As we think about leading through COVID-19, here are three key things we are committing to as a church:

1. Increased Communication

  • Make sure that you are communicating well among your team and staff. If someone is not doing well, you should know about it. We are sending out a daily email and frequent video conferences. This helps when things are changing so frequently.
  • At the church level, we've taken our weekly email, the Current, and moved it to a Daily Current. This increase in communication helps to keep people apprised of the situation and add value to our members lives. We've tried to supplement announcements with helpful resources, ways to keep kids entertained, fun challenges, etc. If you would like to follow along, sign up for the Daily Current here.
  • Todd Wagner, our senior pastor, also communicates daily with the body and anyone else wanting to tune in every day at noon. Typically this occurs on Instagram.

2. Personal Connection

  • While we may not be together in person, we have to fight against relationally isolating. In order to facilitate personal connections, every single member of Watermark is receiving a personal phone call from a staff member. This call is more than just a check-in, but also an opportunity for mutual encouragement, and prayer.
  • We are trying to be more active on social media so that people feel looped in on the situation.

3. Forced Innovation

  • Creativity comes out of constraints. Allow your staff the freedom to innovate. Even if people are working remotely, there is still opportunity to problem solve and come up with new solutions. However, remember that ideas in isolation are not always great.
  • Make sure to keep channels of communication open and over-share what you are working on.

Practical Action Steps

With kids at home, we've developed the Watermark Kids Kit for parents to provide their children with the same quality of content they would normally receive on Sundays at church. If you are interested in that content, feel free to utilize it in your context.

Groups all over Watermark, from our community groups to students ministry to re|engage groups are moving online with Zoom and other video conferencing programs.

Don't just think in terms of opportunity loss, but also in terms of opportunity gain. Remember this is great time to work on items you have put off in the past.

While it may be tempting, don't avoid conversations about finances. Try to be on top of what your financial situation looks like and communicate the scenario realistically to those involved.

We've chosen to shy away from pre-recorded messages because of the ever changing circumstance. With things changing so drastically so quickly, live content may be the best way to stay relevant and on top of the situation.

Keep content simple, too the point, and in shorter lengths. This will help people engage amid the busyness of life.

Ultimately, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the degree of care needed by your church, focus on connecting people with one another in small groups and training people to do the work of ministry themselves. Pastor and shepherd leaders who can do the same with others.

To join in on the conversation live, visit or watch the new Watermark TV Live Monday-Thursday

Hosted By
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John McGee

Sr. Director of Watermark Resources

A tarnow
Adam Tarnow

Cohost of Church Leadership Podcast